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Best of 2019

Dillon Collins' Top 10 Albums of 2019

Dillon Collins Best of 2019

2019 was a massive year for heavy metal. No, I'm not a Tool fan (not knocking them) and haven't bought into what Slipknot or Rammstein have been selling for a few years now (still no hate), but some of my all-time favourite metal bands dropped some incredible material this year.

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From NWOBHM and gothic throwbacks to melodic and symphonic death metal, a decent dose of folk metal and absolute silly nonsense guilty pleasures, there was no shortage of epic riffs, solos, growls and high notes to mark out to (shameless wrestling fan term) this past year. And 2020 is looking even better with new Ozzy and King Diamond on deck!

Full disclosure, I've always been a bit of a list freak. No shame in it. I've had a long-list brewing since mid-year and would probably rank my top albums in some form regardless. To do it for you savage Metal Injection readers is just gravy. Here's to it!

Dillon Collins' Top 10 Albums of 201910. CATTLE DECAPITATION Death Atlas
(Metal Blade Records)

It feels like Cattle Decapitation dropped The Anthropocene Extinction yesterday. Hard to believe it took four years to follow up that extreme metal masterpiece. Anyways, you largely know what you're getting with Cattle in 2019. Travis Ryan is one of the best, and most unique frontmen in the genre. "One Day Closer to the End of the World is" punishing and in certain ways haunting. The self-titled closer doesn't let up, even when Ryan's vocals churn from snarling growl to ominously melodic. But "Bring Back the Plague" seals it for me. Just deadly. All of it, damn near perfect.

Dillon Collins' Top 10 Albums of 20199. OPETH In Cauda Venenum
(Moderbolaget, Nuclear Blast Records)

Opeth get some hate from diehard fans from diverting too far from the death metal snarls and growls that frontmen Mikael did better than most. Who can blame them, right? Blackwater Park, Deliverance and Ghost Reveries are all-time great prog-death metal albums. So yeah, Opeth in 2019 is soooo far removed from Opeth in the early 2000s. That doesn't mean they're bad, though. In Cauda Venenum is, in many ways, a much more epic album to follow up 2016s Sorceress. Not quite the trip that Pale Communion was, but still a deadly time. The guys have, unsurprisingly, gone full-on prog here for a 67-minute effort that will surely please fans of this era of Opeth. "Heart in Hand" and "All Things Will Pass" are some of my standout cuts. Hell, there's even a full-on Swedish version if that's something you're into!

Dillon Collins' Top 10 Albums of 20198. ANGEL WITCH Angel of Light
(Metal Blade Records)

Angel Witch are true heavy metal OGs. It's amazing to think that their NWOBHM classic self-titled debut came out almost 40 years ago now. The guys have gone through a trillion lineup shuffles in that time. Angel Witch are a band to me who I always felt should have been bigger. Frontman Kevin Heybourne is the constant and beating heart of the group, make no mistake, and he's in rare form on Angel of Light. The self-titled closer has serious Sabbath doom-era feels. Kickoff single "Don't Turn Your Back" sets the tone, with Jimmy Martin is in epic form on lead guitar. "Death From Andromeda" is an absolute highlight. This is the first album with Martin and drummer Fredrik Jansson and only the second Angel Witch record since 1986. Great stuff.

Dillon Collins' Top 10 Albums of 20197. TYR Hel
(Metal Blade Records)

Big, sweeping, epic albums are going to be a theme on lists of mine, love it or hate it. Few do that kind of fly into battle with the Valkyries while drinking meed out of a sharpened horn deal quite like Tyr (except maybe a band higher on this list). Folk metal to me is always just awesome shit, and if it can incorporate some kind of lore, myth or history then that's gravy. Heri Joensen is one of my unsung favourite vocalists in heavy metal and he's just incredible on Hel. Worthy listen for fans and newbies.

Dillon Collins' Top 10 Albums of 20196. FIT FOR AN AUTOPSY The Sea of Tragic Beasts
(Nuclear Blast Records)

Now, this one right here might get me some hate. Deathcore is a polarizing sub-genre of metal in 2019. Fans who love it are passionate and loyal to the death. The detractors maybe even more so. Truth be told, I was aware, but not super in-tune with Fit For An Autopsy prior to The Sea of Tragic Beasts. This is their first release with Nuclear Blast and it snuck up on me as one of my most unexpected pleasures of 2019. This album gives me some serious Rivers of Nihil vibes from my #1 album of 2018, although lacking in some of the layered complexities. "Mirrors", "Birds of Prey" and "No Man Without Fear" are mammoth tracks. I'd love to see these guys live.

Dillon Collins' Top 10 Albums of 20195. IDLE HANDS Mana
(Eisenwald)

No 'new' band impressed me more in 2019 than Idle Hands. I had heard in passing their 2018 EP through playlists and quick scrobbles, but never really gave them an honest chance. Mana changed all that, for good. This is the gothic, hook-driven, throwback stuff I need as a break from the heaviest of heavy. You know, when you can only listen to "Rational Gaze" or "Hammer Smashed Face" so many times in a day? "Give Me to the Night" and "Dragon, Why Do You Cry?" are up there with my most played tracks of 2019. Hopefully, these guys see only upward momentum following their tour with King Diamond earlier this fall.

Dillon Collins' Top 10 Albums of 20194. HAUNT If Icarus Could Fly
(Shadow Kingdom Records)

In case you weren't aware, Trevor William Church is a fucking machine. He's self-produced and released something like 10,000,000 records in the past five years. That's hyperbole of course, but damn his output is ridiculous. Haunt is old school NWOBHM and it's just awesome. If Icarus Could Fly isn't re-inventing the wheel, just adding on the awesome hooks, riffs and righteous vocals fans loved from 2018s Burst Into Flame. Oh yeah, he has a new Haunt record coming out in January to add-on to the million side-projects he's working on. Madman!

Dillon Collins' Top 10 Albums of 20193. BARONESS Gold & Grey
(Abraxan Hymns)

Full disclosure, I think John Baizley is a genius. His chromatic series of albums is nothing short of a masterpiece in my eyes. Gold & Grey doesn't quite hit my lofty expectations built from Purple (it's one of my favourite albums ever, so nothing short of perfection could), but it's a damn ambitious and entirely diverse entry into the Baroness catalogue. Fuzzy guitars, production that has divided and created water-cooler conversation, and an almost punk DIY aesthetic that certainly is a throwback to the frontman's roots in the genre. "Throw Me An Anchor" and "Borderlines" are sure to be setlist staples for quite some time. This is Gina Gleason's first full album with Baroness. She's incredible here, and even better live if you get the chance to see her and Baizley bounce solos off each-other.

Dillon Collins' Top 10 Albums of 20192. FLESHGOD APOCALYPSE Veleno
(Nuclear Blast Records)

Remember earlier when I mentioned how I love 'epic' albums? Is there any symphonic death metal band doubling down on epic like Italy's Fleshgod ApocalypseKing was my favourite album of 2016 by a mile and while I don't think Veleno matches the scale of the grandiose picture and concept the group painted with King, it matches, and maybe surpasses, the heaviness. "Sugar" and "Carnivorous Lamb" are just brutal, while never losing the bands' more-is-more approach. Thick instrumentals, a perfect marriage of guttural and soaring vocals and an almost gloomy aesthetic make Veleno one of the definitive pieces in the Fleshgod puzzle. They're hitting the road next year with a String Quartet. An actual fucking String Quartet.

Dillon Collins' Top 10 Albums of 20191. AMON AMARTH Berserker
(Metal Blade Records)

There is no band that does for me what Amon Amarth manages on each and every album. Berserker is pure Amon Amarth, pure viking savagery. You're not getting reinvention, you're not even getting much of a deviation from the tried and true formula. What you are getting is the absolute king in Johan Hegg holding court for 12 epic tracks that are as addictive as they are heavy. I had the chance to see Amon Amarth on tour in Montreal (with At the Gates, Arch Enemy and Grand Magus!!) and it was unapologetically the show of the year for me. "Shield Wall" is going to be forever cemented in the band's setlist. Ditto for "Raven's Flight" and "Crack the Skye". This is a toast to the metal gods and to each and every fan who dies to let loose and just enjoy the music. Skoal!

 

View all of our best of 2019 coverage here and make sure to vote for your favorite album of the year.

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